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Goodbye, Mayor Jones – Hello, Mayor Lyman

El Cerrito Tuesday night got a new mayor, Greg Lyman, who said he's optimistic about completing a "Strategic Plan" and abstract sculptures on streetlight poles, plus "solidifying support" for a new library, senior center and pub

The biannual changing of the guard on the El Cerrito City Council Tuesday night saw heartfelt farewells to Mayor Bill Jones after eight years on the council and Ann Cheng, who's leaving after one four-year term.

The mayor's gavel was passed to Greg Lyman, who had served as Mayor Pro Tem for the past year.

Council members take turns serving a one-year term as mayor, according to an established rotation policy. The policy provides that the Mayor Pro Tem replace the outgoing Mayor. 

Councilwoman Janet Abelson, now mid-way through her fourth four-year term, was selected as the new Mayor Pro Tem.

Lyman, an engineer for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, was elected to a second four-year term on Nov. 6. Also elected were two El Cerrito council veterans, Mark Friedman, who served on the council from 1997 to 2004, and Jan Bridges, who served from 2004 to 2008. The three ran unopposed for the three open seats on the five-member council.

After being sworn in as the new mayor, Lyman said his four years on the council taught him "how much the councils that preceded us contributed to our successes."

"We are just temporary stewards of the public's trust," he said.

He also offered a brief outline of what he hopes to see accomplished in the coming year:

"I'm optimistic that this coming year will set the foundation for us to finish the city's Strategic Plan, see the San Pablo Avenue art installed, adopt the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan and attract new businesses to El Cerrito.

"This year hopefully will see the start of a General Plan update and solidifying support for upgrading our major city infrastructure – the library, senior center and public safety buildings.

"I'm optimistic that city revenues will stabilize, ... we will adopt a balanced budget and be able to support these long-awaited initiatives."

Jones offered departing remarks, thanking his family for their support, fellow council members and city staff. He singled out City Manager Scott Hanin and City Clerk Cheryl Morse for special praise.

Jones emphasized the importance of the "trust" that he found in working with fellow council members who performed their duties with "sincerity" and "no hidden agendas."

Jones offered a quote that he said "kind of captures one of the major reasons I think we all serve, and past council members have served, and I think you'll find really good people serving in the future."

The quote was from the ancient Greek statesman Pericles: "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others."

Jones concluded by expressing gratitude to the city's residents:

"In closing, and most importantly, I'd like to thank the residents of El Cerrito for the opportunity to serve. Living in El Cerrito and raising a family, I had never thought that I would serve on the council and have the privilege of representing my hometown as your mayor.

"I've been fortunate to have the faith, support and trust of a progressive and forward-thinking resident base. ... Most hearteningly residents have responded to situations by supporting issues that have served the community well, especially these last few years. Just a few of them: sales tax increase for improvements of streets and operation, building quality schools, civic projects like City Hall and the Community Center Swim Center and the Recycling Center. These are all signs of a progressive community that values the concept of community."

Friedman assumed his seat on the council and took the oath of office from Morse. Bridges was absent and will be sworn in before the next council meeting, Morse said.

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